Silver Surfer #15: Battling The Human Torch

silver-surfer-15

You just know any comic book that starts out with the Silver Surfer shopping for a trench coat and fedora is just going to end badly for him. By the middle of this issue he finds out that the Fantastic Four–who he thought were his friends–have been conspiring against him with the US Army.

But first, back to him clothes shopping. Surfer is offered them, as the salesman thinks he is holding up the store which is called “Exclusive Styles Men’s Clothing.” With a name like that it has to be fancy. Surfer won’t accept his generosity. Instead, he turns a stanchion into solid gold. He then doe what we all do with our new clothes: goes out on the town.

Unfortunately he overhears what sounds like the Fantastic Four teaming up with the army. Fearing captivity he lashes out and attacks them. It leads to a high speed, energy blasting battle with the Human Torch across the city that ends abruptly with the Torch almost getting hit by a train. Surfer snaps out of his rage in time to prevent that from happening, as he couldn’t stomach the thought of him letting a friend die in such a grizzly way.

The story ends with Surfer finding out the truth of the army’s visit to Reed Richards: they wanted to recruit him to help assist in the development of space travel. Surfer leaves completely distraught, having blown the one opportunity that mankind wanted to befriend him.

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Torch #1

 

torch-1This is another “tales from the quarter bin” comic. The Torch #1 came out in the fall of 2009, but what makes it odd that the series seems to have been published through a partnership between Marvel and Dynamite. The mini-series  is about the original Human Torch Jim Hammond.

Hammond–an android who can burst into flames–is one of the most underused of Marvel’s original “big three” characters. Captain America and Namor been fixtures of the Marvel Universe, but he seems to get the short end of the stick mostly due to Johnny Storm flying around with his name.

Any who, Hammond isn’t featured too much in the first issue. Toro–his didekick–has been resurrected and hates his life. He’s largely forgotten, his girlfriend moved on, and he’s finding it hard getting used to being alive after being a corpse since the end of World War II. Toro decides to avenge his death by killing his murderer, the villainous Mad Tinkerer. Conveniently as this is going on, Tinkerer is working for Norman Osbron to replicate the science that created both Toro and Jim Hammond. The issue ends with Toro captured and Hammond’s remains being exhumed.

This seems like it could be a fun series to me, especially knowing my love of second tier characters. The mini-series also has awesome covers from Alex Ross. The good thing is that this whole mini-series is featured on Marvel Unlimited which I subscribe to, so expect some more discussion about this in the near future.

 

Spidey’s Poker Night: Spectacular Spider-Man #21

As I’ve said before, I love single-issue comic book stories. It’s great being able to pick up something and read it in one quick sitting. Writer Paul Jenkins and artist Talent Caldwell put together a forgotten gem of a single-issue story in 2004’s Spectacular Spider-Man #21. Best of all, this features a slice-of-life story that we usually don’t get to see in super hero comics.

Jenkins has put together a story about what should have been a fun evening for a bunch of Marvel’s super heroes—poker night. Little did everyone know that their game would be crashed by the Kingpin, who wants in on this game. Kingpin’s motivation isn’t that he wants a night out with the boys heroes. Instead, he spots everyone money and turns it into a high stakes tournament. If any of the heroes win, they can keep the money and do whatever they wish with it. If Kingpin wins,  he plans on using the money to buy a new yacht named Heroes’ Folly as a way to embarrass them for not being able to beat him in a card game.

Since this is a Spidey book, the game ends the way you think it will.  That’s to be expected. But what makes this such a good read is that the witty dialogue between the characters and how expressive Caldwell makes everyone. There’s a lot of little things going on the side in this book that are briefly mentioned but are expanded through the rest of the story through clever use of facial expressions and posture, like Dr. Strange and his sidekick Wong being completely bewildered by the rules of poker, or Angel and Black Cat being super flirty. After the game,  you are left with the impression that a certain winged mutant  is going to be making out with a certain burglar turned hero. Way to go Warren!

Even the wisecracking between Spidey, the Human Torch and Thing is laugh-out-loud funny. Jenkins and Caldwell deserve a lot of credit; they were able to turn a filler issue into a classic. Go read this.

Splash Page Saturday #9

 

I know this is late, so what? Last week was the fiftieth anniversary of the Fantastic Four’s debut! Hooray! Here’s a pinup by Jack Kirby featuring the Fantastic Four back in the Thing’s old neighborhood on Yancy Street.

And as usual, it’s a bad experience. You can see Dr. Doom up in the right corner, and he’s responsible for the welcoming graffiti. Happy anniversary!

Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review..FINALLY!`

This Sunday I finally saw Captain America: The First Avenger. So what did I think?

I really enjoyed the film. It reminded me a lot of The Rocketeer, as both films may have been set in the 1940s but felt modern. This comparison makes a lot of sense, as both films were directed by Joe Johnston. What carried this film was Chris Evans, who made Steve Rogers super likable in the way that Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. respectively made Superman and Iron Man compelling characters. You really wanted to see Rogers succeed.

This version of Cap really hit home how much he loved America, whether it be him getting denied entrance into the army, or him being upset that he was created to be a super soldier and all he wad doing to help the war effort was being a fundraising mascot. And in the final scene of the movie, as he put aside his own life to make sure that Red Skull’s doom machine wound up crashing into the ocean around Newfoundland then destroying Manhattan.

I really like how they made Captain America show that you can be patriotic and selfless, without having to be an overbearing, flag waiving caricature of the American spirit. I’m sure this will help the movie be a success overseas.

Getting to the casting and characters, I enjoyed everyone else in the film. Hugo Weaving was a very maniacal Red Skull, and I love how they toyed with the big reveal of his disfigured face through the first half of the movie. Sebastian Stan’s Bucky was a great supporting character. Johnston did a good job showing the dynamic change between Steve and Bucky, as at first Bucky was the protector to the weaker Steve, and how that changed thanks to the Super Solier Serum. With Bucky’s off camera death, I wonder if he may return as Winter Soldier in a later film. Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones were also fun characters.

There was even a nice nod to fans of Timely Comics era Marvel, you can spot an android Human Torch Jim Hammond in the Stark Expo.

Anyway, the movie was fun, and it was a great way to connect-the-dots on how we get to the Avengers film. That hidden clip at the end officially starts my countdown. Check out Andrew over at ComicBookMarks and Todd Lyden who had some interesting opinions on the film.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#10 Namor the Sub-Mariner

Let’s face it–Namor is awesome. He’s technically both Marvel’s first super hero but the first of its mutant characters. Created back in 1939 by Bill Everett, he’s consistently been one of the best in comics.

In his earliest appearances, the half-Atlantean, half-human prince of Atlantis was an anti-hero. He was really arrogant and hated the surface world. He would get upset and rip the antenna off the Empire State Building. Sometimes he would flood Manhattan, sometimes brawl with the original Human Torch.

But sometimes, at the urging of his would-be policewoman Betty Dean, Namor would help the surface world, whether it be fighting the Nazis during World War II or catching criminals.

When Namor returned to comics in the 1960s they played up the fact that he was torn between two worlds. He wasn’t necessarily respected as the ruler of Atlantis because he was pink-skinned like the surface dwellers. He loathed mankind, because they didn’t respect him as a leader or the ocean. Namor is constantly at conflict with the world around him. To top it all off, he’s also completely self-absorbed. Why else would he run around in his green speedo for the last eighty years? Namor thinks–and knows–he’s royalty and constantly demands to be treated that way.

What makes Namor likable is how much he cares for Atlantis and his people, even though he is not truly one of them. His outbursts against the surface world are to protect them and their honor. He would do anything to ensure their survival, whether it’s ally himself with Doctor Doom and have them relocate to Latveria, or have them form a mutual protection with the mutants on Utopia at the urging of his former lover Emma Frost.

So to those of you who think Namor is just a more scantily clad version of Aquaman, think again.